Finally, the London Games are here.
As a lifelong Olympics junkie, I am proud to represent the National Football Post's Daily Jolt section and provide full coverage all throughout the Summer Games in London.
What more can American Michael Phelps actually accomplish after his eight-gold performance in Beijing? Well, the swimmer will be competing in seven events in London (he actually qualified for eight) and it's a foregone conclusion that he will become the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps will overtake Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina with just three medals at the Games (Latynina hauled in 18 medals over three Olympics). The 14 career gold medals Phelps owns are already five more than the nine of Latynina, Mark Spitz, Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis. Phelps can also become the first man to win an Olympic event three times, as he'll have chances in the 400 IM, 200 IM, 200 fly and the 100 fly. Japan's Kosuke Kitajima could get the honor Sunday, however, if he claims the 100 breaststroke for the third time.
The next big thing?
Of course, the athlete who many believe is poised to become the face of the Games despite the presence of Phelps is American teammate and friendly rival Ryan Lochte, who bested Phelps in the 400 IM at the U.S. Trials. Lochte is also poised to contend with Phelps in the 200 IM, the event that was won by Phelps by .09 seconds at the trials. But Lochte is the world-record holder in that race. Even if Phelps has another huge Games, his swims at least will be compelling because of Lochte's presence.
The female Phelps?
The buzz around 17-year-old Missy Franklin is nearing Phelps-ian levels, as the 6-1 Colorado native has the talent, poise and charm to steal the show for the Americans in London. Like Phelps, she'll swim in seven events and is a serious contender to medal in five. She owns the world's top times this year in the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes, and she should medal in the medley relays. The real question will be whether she could surprise the field in the 100 and 200 freestyles. Natalie Coughlin currently holds the female record of six medals in a single Olympics in 2008, but Franklin could reach that here or in 2016.
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1992 vs. 2012
Let's stop the debate right now. No matter what current NBA star steps out again and says this current group of Olympic basketball players could beat the Dream Team, that player is delusional. Even with an out-of-shape Magic Johnson and a hurting Larry Bird, the '92 team would own this current squad. However, this American team remains the best in the world despite not having great size. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will likely lean on 6-8 LeBron James and play him at nearly every position. Andre Iguodala, despite being only 6-6, will also play in the paint. But this team will showcase itself in the transition game, and the squad's athleticism just can't be matched by the World. If a team is going to cause problems for the Americans, it likely will be Spain, which could be a Gold medal opponent. Point guard Jose Calderon and the tall Gasol brothers is at least an intriguing matchup on paper. Will the Americans have trouble playing a traditional half-court defensive game, or will easy baskets lead the way to Gold?
Can Bolt repeat his Beijing feat?
Usain Bolt of Jamaica will try to once again win both the 100 and 200 meter track and field races in London. Four years ago in China, he became the face of the Games outside of Michael Phelps after winning three gold medals and breaking three world records. However, he has been dealing with assorted injuries (back and hamstring issues) as well as a hard-partying lifestyle. Fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, who won the 100 in the 2011 world championships, also came close to besting Bolt's world record in the 200 meters at a meet in Brussels last year. Bolt was defeated by Blake in both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican Olympic Trials in late June. So Blake is the favorite in London in both races. Keep an eye, though, on yet another Jamaican: Asafa Powell. And Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin could also pose a challenge in both sprints.
They aren't the Magnificent Seven, but...
The U.S. women's gymnastics team in 1996 — nicknamed the Magnificent Seven — is the last American team to win the team title. But this year's young squad is the most talented since that '96 squad — and perhaps moreso. All-around gold contenders Jordyn Wieber (the reigning world champion) and Gabby Douglas (the U.S. trials champ) lead the way, while Aly Raisman is the oldest member of the team at just 18 years of age. She could medal in the floor exercise. McKayla "Flying Squirrel" Maroney could win gold in the vault if her broken toe is healed, while 15-year-old Kyla Ross could steal the show if she can deal with the nerves of being on the world's brightest stage. Standing in the way of gold, however, is Russia. The nation is back after failing to win a team medal for the first time since 1948 at the last Games. The Russians are led by all-around contenders Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova.
Also keep an eye on:
South African Oscar Pistorius will become the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics when he competes in the 400 meters in track and field at the Olympics.
Allyson Felix will try to win her first individual Olympic Gold after claiming the 200 in at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Can Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh capture their third straight Olympic title in beach volleyball in what is likely to be their last Games? The favorites are Brazil's Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta.
Enjoy the Games!
The Daily Jolt is a section of the National Football Post that serves as a one-stop shop for all things sports, pop culture and everyday life.
The section’s editor, Dave Miller, also writes the College Football Report column for the NFP. When he isn't putting coaches on the hot seat, he can often be found reminiscing about the glory days of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). You can follow him on Twitter at Miller_Dave.
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This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com